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Governor calls on president to tour drought hit counties

Garissa Governor Nathif Jama has called on President William Ruto to tour drought hit counties to ‘have a feel of what the victims are undergoing.’

Speaking at the Garissa Farmers’ Training Centre during the launch of drought response initiatives, Jama said that it was time for President Ruto to declare the current drought a national disaster.

“I want to humbly request to his Excellency the president to find some time out of his busy schedule and visit some of the ASAL counties and see for himself the true picture of what is really happening,” Jama said.

“It is only after his visit that I honestly think he will get to understand how grave the situation is. It’s only then that he will really get the full attention of the world to come to the rescue of Garissa and other ASAL counties,” he added.

The governor said that even though several interventions were currently ongoing both from the national and county governments as well as from non-governmental organizations, the situation on the ground calls for more action.

The counties of Garissa, Wajir and Mandera in North Eastern did not receive adequate rainfall during the last October – November short rain season.

The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) in its January 2023 bulletin paints a worrying picture in 23 counties that have been classified as either in the alarm or alert phase of the drought.

Narok, Tana river, Makueni, Tharaka Nithi, Baringo, Laikipia, Meru, Taita Taveta, westpokot, Nyeri and Kwale are in the alert drought phase.

According to the Kenya Red Cross, close to 400,000 people are in dire need of relief food supplies. The deteriorating drought situation has continued to severely impact the food security and livelihoods of vulnerable households.

The interventions being undertaken by the County Government in partnership with the Kenya Red Cross, Save the Children, NDMA and other partners will benefit 150,000 households in Garissa county.

Jama disclosed that his administration has suspended all development programmes to focus on addressing the biting drought in the area.

He added that the supplementary budget for emergency response purposes would be tabled in the County Assembly next week.

Jama also called on President Ruto to direct the military and the National Youth Service (NYS) to distribute water to drought victims in ASAL counties.

“Our military and the NYS have the capacity of supplying water. Although they are doing it in certain pockets in the affected counties, there is need to increase their water trucking to reach more victims,” Jama said.

Jame further urged the national government to suspend development or infrastructure funds and channel the same to drought emergency response.

“The same way we have done, I also call on the national government to urgently re-allocate any development monies earmarked for the region to drought mitigation measures like water trucking and food distribution to our people and schools,” he said.

By Jacob Songok

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